I am so excited to be a mentor for the SECOND year running! This makes me feel almost like an institution! Last year, I had a fabulous mentee who worked super hard and acquired an agent with her PitchWars manuscript IN LESS THAN TWO WEEKS. The year before that, I was in PitchWars myself and got my lovely agent, Sarah E. Younger, with my PitchWars manuscript.
I'm a lawyer and I write YA and WF. I love books about people and why they do what they do. I have two sons and an amazing husband and two frequently muddy beagles. I grew up in Detroit but now I live on a dirt road a mile from pavement in Virginia. I love all things British (tea, kilts, Austen, Rowling, Outlander), sports, hiking, movies (I haven't missed an Oscars broadcast since I was eleven), Broadway (I know every word of Hamilton - even "Guns and Ships"), and roller coasters (literal and literary).
Yes, yes, you say. What does she have to offer me? Here’s my plan: I will read over your manuscript and give you big picture edits. Last year, I said you’ll need to put on your big kid pants before you open that email. Still true. I will tell you if your story starts in the wrong place, if your characters are developed, if your plot moves along, if your middle is saggy, and if your ending is satisfying. Then you fix. If there’s time, we’ll send it back and forth and I’ll go over it as many times as time permits.
I have three close CPs (all PitchWars mentors and former contestants), and I think they’d agree I’m pretty good at spotting this stuff AND telling them in a constructive way that doesn’t make them want to burn down villages. I also have a writing group online (also, all PitchWars mentors and former contestants who keep me sane on a daily basis), and I hope they’d say the same.
I had good success last year, but I make no promises: your manuscript is yours. It is not mine. I will not force you to make a change you disagree with. I will not harass you or talk smack about you on Twitter. I will make recommendations and the rest is up to you. Hence the no promises thing. I am human. So are you — I hope.
Unlike last year, however, I am mentoring YOUNG ADULT and only young adult. Do not send me adult manuscripts — I can’t help you with those. So, without further ado, here is my WISHLIST:
YOUNG ADULT CONTEMPORARY, YOUNG ADULT ROMANCE and YOUNG ADULT HISTORICAL.
I am not a good fit for YA fantasy, horror, dystopian, paranormal, science fiction, and gothic. If you send these to me, I’m going to pass you by. Life is too short to read all the books I want to read, and you’d be better served passing these to other mentors. There are a lot of amazing mentors who are salivating for those genres.
My favorite authors in YA are Rainbow Rowell and John Green. I also like Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen. Old school authors I love: S.E. Hinton and L.M. Montgomery. I like stories about real-feeling teens with real-feeling problems. Give me all the awkwardness. All the feeling that you're doing everything wrong. All the longing for escape but fear of it at the same time. The teen years are the razor's edge where everything is still possible: show me that sense that we've reached the moment when it takes almost nothing to tip a kid into perpetual success--or eternal tool-ishness.
I love romance of all kinds. I still read the scene where Anne realizes she loves Gilbert Blythe about once a year. I love to see that spark or chemistry between characters — romantic or platonic. I can handle a little magic realism in my contemporary or romance. I probably can't resist time travel, even though it technically fits in fantasy (why is time travel not its own genre? Seriously.). Snappy dialogue please.
I LOVE history. I was a history major. Any historicals are great by me. Bonus points if you have a historical with a romance.
I like issues: divorce, death, suicide, bullying, et cetera, but I like romance the most. Romance in the midst of issues is my favorite of all. I’m open to all re-tellings of classics: Jane Austen is my favorite, but also fairy tales, Shakespeare, myths of all varieties. I want diversity, but not forced diversity. If you added a character from every underrepresented group just to make sure you had one, I’ll notice the forcing. It should feel organic.
Here’s my standard caveat: It is your book and I mean that. However, if you can’t handle criticism and are prepared to fight me for every word of your deathless prose, don’t submit to me or anyone. Just don’t. Go on and query now. You’ll save us both a lot of time. If all you want is for someone to tell you you’re an amazing writer, you’re in the wrong place. I might suggest eliminating characters. I might suggest changing your title. I might suggest altering a subplot. I need you to have an open mind.
This contest is for people who want to IMPROVE their manuscript and their writing overall.
And that’s what we will do. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got!
Scavenger hunt: A